E3 2017: Moss is a Charming New VR Puzzle Adventure

As we near the first anniversary of the PlayStation VR headset, there are very few “must plays” on the platform. Sure, there’s Resident Evil 7 and Rez Infinite, but beyond them it’s a lot tougher to suss out good exclusives. When Moss appeared during Sony’s press conference it immediately stood out with a charming little mouse and her grand adventure. Fortunately, it appears that the game is as enjoyable to play as the trailer suggested.

So what’s Moss all about? It is a single player adventure puzzler at its core with a focus on the two main characters. The first is our spry young mouse friend, Quill. She might be little, but she is ready to explore and fight against enemies as needed. The other character is none other than yourself. Instead of the headset simply providing a new form of camera control, players are brought into the game via their actions. Quill can’t solve puzzles alone. Instead, you must reach into the environment using Move controllers to manipulate objects, pick up creatures and more. This brings a very tactile sensation to the virtual fantasy realm.

You aren’t just manipulating objects as a semi-ghostly presence. Quill responds to you and acknowledges this presence directly. At times you might find her looking up at or even waving at you when something cool gets accomplished. On the other hand, she also attempts to aid the player when they’re struggling with a puzzle. If you ever get stuck on one, simply watch Quill for a bit as she emotes and gestures to try and give clues. Sure, she might not be able to speak directly, but these hints should certainly help folks find their way in more challenging segments.

It’s a little surprising just how effective Moss is at getting players involved and interested in the world. At many points early on, it is easy to forget just how directly involved you actually are in the world. For example, one puzzle left me perplexed until I realized it was possible to simply reach out and move a stubborn crab onto a platform. Another surprise was finding just how likable Quill is despite being a digital backpack-wearing mouse. It seems likely that players will be able to forge a bond with their rodent buddy throughout the course of the game.

Aside from puzzles there’s also a fair bit of action adventure and platforming going on. In these instances players look on as they move Quill via analog stick controls. These sequences have more cinematic camera angles than your traditional platformer and sometimes Quill appears very far from the player’s view. Still, each screen is rather small and keeps players engaged with puzzle or world manipulation aspects in between.

Fortunately, Moss’s world looks and feels fantastical. The surroundings are bright and easy to lose yourself within. Also, since the camera view is tied to your own view, there’s never an opportunity to cause nausea by moving the view independently of your sight. Quill can move quickly, but you simply watch from above. These are all good signs and point to the chance that Moss could become a huge hit when it launches this holiday season. It’s the type of game that players of all ages can jump in with and enjoy.